Chike Ameobi has dedicated his life to the army but when, after twelve months protecting the oil barons’ interests in the Delta, his commanding officer orders the burning of an entire village, he walks out. With him is his only friend, and loyal follower, the uneducated and low-ranking Yemi. As they flee, they enlist a young rebel militant, Fineboy, to guide them to the road, while teenager Isoken, recently saved from rape by her tight jeans, comes under their protection. Boarding the bus to Lagos, Chike is seated beside Oma, the runaway wife of an abusive husband.
In beautiful prose, Welcome to Lagos addresses heavy themes of misogyny, urban homelessness and political corruption with lightness and humour, and even manages a nod to the importance of toilets in schools. There is hope in the spirit of cooperation within the group of ethnically and socially diverse characters and in their charitable attempts to distribute the money where it rightfully belongs. While I suspect the reality is much darker, it’s refreshing to read a novel contradicting Western stereotypes about Africa. However, if you prefer less optimistic novels about Nigeria, here are two more reviews that might appeal to you from earlier this year. Thanks to Faber and Faber for my review copy.
Five a day, no more no less.
Gabe was heading home when he saw the loot. His duty was clear, but he’d already met his quota and he didn’t fancy the extra paperwork. Luckily, Mike happened along.
“That heap of glorious booty. Wanna split it?”
Hell’s teeth! Take half to the poor? Leave it all for Mike to distribute? Either way, it would be his sixth good deed. Unless.
Gabe spread his wings, spun around, knocked out Mike with the force. Stepped over his body, confident that, when he came round, Mike would find the treasure and forget he’d ever been there.